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of August 1996
Next up-date: 31 October 1996 (God willing).
What did Jesus mean when He said, "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as you see Me have. And when He had thus spoken, He showed them His hands and His feet". Luke 24:39-40.
Jesus said these words because His disciples thought they had seen a ghost and this had frightened them. Verse 37. He invited them to touch Him to be sure that He was indeed a real person. In this meeting therefore He has given us an understanding of what happens to humans after death. When we meet a person who has been dead AND RESURRECTED we will be able to recognise them and to feel them physically, as well as in their personality.
Jesus said (speaking of Himself), "Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth. They that have done good, to the resurrection of life; and that that have done evil, to the resurrection of damnation." John 5:28-29.
Just three verses before this He also said, "Verily, verily (or truly, truly - a warning of an important truth to come), I say to you, The hour is coming AND NOW IS, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live." Verse 25. He was speaking of the people who would come up out of their graves on the morning of His resurrection and this is recorded in Matthew 27 for us.
"Jesus, when He had cried again with a loud voice (on the cross), yielded up the ghost (His life). And, behold, the veil of the temple (in Jerusalem) was rent (or torn) in twain (two) from top to bottom. And the earth did quake, and the rocks rent (or were torn apart) and the graves were opened (by the earthquake). And many bodies of the saints (former followers of God's way) arose and came out of the graves after His resurrection, and went into the holy city (Jerusalem) and appeared to many." Verses 50-53.
Later on, when the apostle Paul was writing to some of the believers in the Greek city of Ephesus who, as Greeks, had believed in the immortality of the soul and in reincarnation, he drew attention to this group of people and called them "a multitude". Ephesians 4:8 margin. He was quoting from Psalm 68:18 and wrote "When He ascended up on high (when Jesus returned to heaven) He led a multitude of captives, and gave gifts to men".
Although the graves were opened at the time of Jesus' death (3pm on Friday) the people did not leave them until after His resurrection on Sunday morning. He had stated that He was "the resurrection and the life. He that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live", and this is how He proved it. John 11:25. As we have seen, (John 5:25), they needed to "hear His voice" and respond in order to be resurrected.
The patriarch Job, whose story is one of the earliest recorded for us in the Bible, was very sick and wanted to die. Not to be with his LORD, but to wait for the resurrection which he knew would one day happen. He said, "O, that You would hide me in the grave, that You would keep me secret until Your wrath (Job's sickness) be past. That You appoint me a set time and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. You will call, and I will answer You. You will have desire for the work of Your hands." Job 14:13-15.
One final verse. Ezekiel 18:4. "The soul that sins, it shall die".
None of the verses or stories mentioned above give any indication of a series of lives upon this earth. They tell us that there is only one life and death, from which we need a resurrection. That NEW life is the one that is called in the Bible, eternal. Mark 10:30. The question is often asked in the Bible, "How shall I get eternal life?" showing that man does not yet have it. See Luke 10:25 for an example. I do not know of any verse that says that we come back as reincarnations of previous humans or our ancestors. I do know that Bible uses the word "immortal" only once, and that in connection with the King of kings. 1 Timothy 1:17. The word "immortality" occurs as a state we seek after, one that we shall put on after the resurrection. See Romans 2:7 and 1 Corinthians 15:53 and 54.
John 20:24 tells us that one of His disciples, Thomas, was not present at the meeting when Jesus showed them His hands and feet. When he was told about it he expressed great disbelief and maintained that he would have to see for himself. Verse 25. In this he showed his distrust of his fellows and their report. When he met Jesus on the last day of the feast he was gently rebuked and told that he needed to trust, or have faith in the WORD and the word of God. Verses 26-29. He had already been told the "way" of life. In John 14:1-20 Jesus had set it out very clearly for them all. Therefore if you do not know the "way" just listen to the Saviour's words, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No man (or woman) comes to the Father but by Me... Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me, or else believe Me for the very works sake. Verily, verily, I say to you, he (or she) that believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also". Verses 6-7, 10-12. This means that we must first study His actions, His words, and His thoughts and then copy them in His strength. Consider Isaiah 27:5.
Reincarnation: This theory is not sustained by the words or actions of Jesus. See John 5:25-29. Also Hebrews 9:27.
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